October 11th, 2012
11:25 PM ET
2 years ago

CNN Poll: Debate watchers split on who won VP debate

Danville, Kentucky (CNN) - Call it a draw.

Forty-eight percent of voters who watched the vice presidential debate think that Rep. Paul Ryan won the showdown, according to a CNN/ORC International nationwide poll conducted right after Thursday night's faceoff. Forty-four percent say that Vice President Joe Biden was victorious. The Republican running mate's four point advantage among a debate audience that was more Republican than the country as a whole is within the survey's sampling error.

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Half of all debate watchers questioned in the poll said the showdown didn't make them more likely to vote for either of the candidates' bosses, 28% said the debate made them more likely to vote for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and 21% said the faceoff made them more likely to vote to re-elect President Barack Obama.

According to the survey, 55% said that the vice president did better than expected, with 51% saying that the congressman from Wisconsin performed better than expected.

By a 50%-41% margin, debate watchers say that Ryan rather than Biden better expressed himself.

MORE: Romney calls Ryan with congratulations after debate

Seven in ten said Biden was seen as spending more time attacking his opponent, and that may be a contributing factor in Ryan's 53%-43% advantage on being more likable. Ryan also had a slight advantage on being more in touch with the problems of average Americans.

One of the top jobs for the candidates in a vice presidential debate is to convince Americans that they would be able to step into the top job if something happened to the president. The poll indicates that both men were seen as qualified to be president if necessary, by roughly equal numbers.

"This poll does not and cannot reflect the views of all Americans. It only represents the views of people who watched the debate and by definition cannot be an indication of how the entire American public will react to Wednesday's debate in the coming days," cautions CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

One-third of the respondents who participated in tonight's survey identified themselves as Republicans, with 31% identifying themselves as Democrats, and 34% identifying themselves as independents.

"That indicates that the sample of debate watchers is more Republican than an average of recent CNN polls of all Americans," adds Holland.

MORE: Obama: 'could not be prouder' of Biden debate

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International, with 381 registered voters nationwide who watched the debate questioned by telephone. All interviews were conducted after the end of the debate. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus five percentage points.

A CBS News poll of uncommitted voters who watched the debate gave Biden the edge over Ryan by a 50%-31% margin. Uncommitted voters made up roughly ten percent or less of the debate audience.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story

soundoff (4,842 Responses)
  1. AadePhiladelphia

    Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. Biden delivered the message.

    October 12, 2012 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  2. raydelv

    I thought it was a good debate, the six days Biden was tucked away did him good. Both had strong and week points. Biden got to say what Obama did not in his debate like talk about the 47 percent. I think Biden hurt himself for being disrespectful, I think he threw Hillary under the bus wen he stated the Obama administration was never told a request for more security was made. This is a dragon that the more times Obama and company try to cut te head off, the more heads it grows. Biden lied about voting no on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I think it was a tied.

    October 12, 2012 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  3. Jen

    Umm, CNN your poll at the bottom of your website is showing Joe won by a landslide!!!!

    October 12, 2012 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  4. Browns44

    Can any one believe a word that comes put of our current V.P's mouth? What a joke.

    October 12, 2012 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  5. brivers

    @th33
    "I thought it was a good debate. However, Biden's rude behavior was a bit baffling and un-presidential. I did not agree with everything he said, but if he wipe the facial expressions off his face he would have been better off. I thought Ryan was much stronger than I anticipated. Behaving in a courteous manner served him well."

    Yet when Obama acted courteous, you all called him a wimp.... things that make you go hmmmmmmmmmm

    October 12, 2012 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  6. khari

    Any person watching the debate will say Biden CLEARLY won. Where do you get your responses.

    October 12, 2012 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  7. Kaehu

    Biden basically came off like a dishonest used car salesman. Felt like I had to take a shower after watching 90 minutes of that. No question who I'm voting for now.

    October 12, 2012 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  8. Jim

    I don't know where they are getting their numbers but Biden beat the living crap out of Ryan. I love it when the stop letting people vote early and the media is so left wing lol!!!

    October 12, 2012 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  9. DJ

    Biden came off like a rude and condecending. I think Ryan came off alot better and did a good job of addressing the issues in a civil logical manner.

    October 12, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  10. Keith

    Disappointed in your reporting this election year. Your polling numbers are incorrect and it is unsettling. Thank goodness Americans are paying attention and not biased by news programs that cannot get it right. Bush was a lovable idiot but the Romney / Ryan ticket is just plain scary.

    October 12, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  11. war on women

    Biden won Hands Down!!!!!!!!!

    October 12, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  12. BOO

    One of the many reasons why I stopped watching CNN.... the poll like this one and the paid Ramney supporters using CNN spreading lies.......Please go to the emergency rooms in the middle of the night or attend any of PTA meetings you will get the true poll (heart beat) how people feel about the GOP plan!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 12, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  13. ericgoestoholland

    In my view, Ryan didn't best Biden enough to have even 4 percentage points above him (although, there is a 5 point margin of error). At most, I think it should be about 50-50, although the subjectivity of this kind of judgment is crucial to consider. It all depends on what various supporters and bystanders see as "winning." I think if Democrats are largely satisfied with the way Biden performed, and Republicans are largely satisfied with the way Ryan performed, then it should count as a draw. On the other hand, one can look at the debate more objectively, tallying points here and there for rhetorical successes and failures. But this sort of analysis requires close observation and multiple viewings of the debate. Most of us aren't prepared or willing to do that sort of analysis and, really, is it even worth it?

    October 12, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  14. Lyndon Derrick Watson

    There is no way that Ryan won that debate. It wasn't even close Biden killed him. Last week I admitted that Romney won even those I'm for President Obama, but tonight Biden clearly won!

    October 12, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  15. oakhill3

    Biden's behavior was disgraceful for a person in his position. He seemed incapable of graciously letting his opponent express ANY view without his incessant head shaking, smirking, faux laughing, and interruptions. While many seem to think the way he acted was just fine by them, I can't imagine such a poor mannered individual as a possible president, no matter WHAT his views are. Frankly, Obama would be better off without him as his running mate.

    October 12, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  16. Anonymous

    I have no idea what debate these people were watching, but I haven't seen a person (Paul Ryan) get destroyed like that in a debate in a long time. Either they asked some of the most impartial, ignorant, misinformed people on the planet or this is one of the most slanted polls in history.

    October 12, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  17. Anonymous

    What everyone will remember about this debate is Biden's lack of professionalism.

    October 12, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  18. Adam

    What debate were you and your poll-taker watching, CNN? Biden trounced Ryan, calling him out on every lie that spilled out of him.

    October 12, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  19. Anonymous

    CNN has this wrong. Biden won. The numbers are reported wrong to get hits to their site as people try to figure out the flawed report even with the error margin.

    October 12, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  20. Amerikan

    Biden – 1st prize
    Raddatz – 2nd place
    Ryan – dead last

    October 12, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  21. Brian Ivon Jones

    Congresman Ryan was the winner without doubt inspite of some rocky moments. He was calm,polite, respectful delivered his statements more clearly. The Vice President was rude, impatient, aggressive, interrupted his opponent,and was embarrasing with that smug derisive smirk. I also thought the moderator who is a well respected journalist in her own right was hopeless and often didn't do her job as moderator for the debate, which definitely favoured the Vice President.

    October 12, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  22. AliciaMY

    Biden won because he employed rudeness, aggression and condescension to keep Ryan from completing a thought. Do we really want four years of his belief that everyone with an opposition opinion to Obama/ Biden should just get out of way and let them govern? Isn't this the definition of a dictatorship? What happened to freedom of speech? As a lower middle class lack woman I'm going to preserve what I have left, follow Biden's advice and use my common sense.. Ad vote for change.. Maybe then I wouldn't have to send my kids to the food bank ad salvation army while I work two jobs... Does this really sound like Obama is in my corner? no he isn't.

    October 12, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  23. Sonya

    Biden all the way!

    October 12, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  24. Kathy

    Biden rocked and clearly won!

    October 12, 2012 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  25. oakhill3

    Biden's behavior was disgraceful for a person in his position. He seemed incapable of graciously letting his opponent express ANY view without his incessant head shaking, smirking, fake laughing, and interruptions. While many seem to think the way he acted was just fine by them, I can't imagine such a poor mannered individual as a possible president, no matter WHAT his views are. Frankly, Obama would be better off without him as his running mate.

    October 12, 2012 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
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